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How to Build Muscle Without Weights

Is it possible to build muscle without weights?

Learn how to build muscle without weights with these tips from Jeff at Athlean X.

How to Build Muscle Without Weights

“If you want to build muscle and do not have access to weights at the moment, this is the way to do it. I’m going to share with you a technique from the great Bruce Lee that he incorporated into his bodyweight exercises that greatly increased the intensity of them and their ability to help them build muscle. This is called dynamic tension. It uses constant tension applied to more than just the muscles you are trying to build in order to amplify the effects of the exercise on your entire body.”

“Here I show you 7 of the best exercises you can apply dynamic tension too in order to build muscle size without lifting weights.”

“The bodyweight exercises are as follows:”

How to Build Muscle Without Weights – Exercises

  • Pushups
  • Dips
  • Chins
  • Pullups
  • Cobra Pushups
  • Handstand Pushups
  • Eccentric Step Up/Downs

“The key to the effectiveness of this is to be sure you’re not focused on counting reps but rather making your reps count.”

supinator muscle How to Build Muscle Without Weights

“So, in the example of the pushup, instead of just repping out until failure you want to dramatically slow down the pace of the exercise. Both on the way up and down on every rep, you want to squeeze every muscle in your upper body. Don’t think of it as just a chest exercise but an everything in your upper body exercise. The shoulders should light up. The triceps should be tensed. The lats should be engaged. Everything should be working to stabilize your body hard as you move through every rep of the exercise.”

How to Build Muscle Without Weights

“The number of reps that you can do is going to be affected greatly. You may be able to do upwards of 30 or even 50 pushups when you do them normally. When you do them as shown here however, you are going to struggle to get even 20 percent of that number – and that’s ok. The key is just to drive as much muscle tension into the exercise you are performing and let the reps fall where they may.”

“The muscle building doesn’t stop there however. You can apply the intra-set isometric that Bruce Lee did as well to really increase the intensity of the bodyweight exercises. On the pushup, as soon as you finish you would come to a kneeling position and cross your arms across your chest. The adduction on the chest muscles is enough to create an intense contraction. Hold it for up to 6 seconds with the goal being to increase the strength of the contraction every second. Rest and repeat for 1-2 more times.”

“At this point, perform your normal rest between sets and then go back to your next set of pushups.”

“You will find that your overall workout is going to be shorter in length while the intensity of what you are doing is significantly increased.”

How to Build Muscle Without Weights

“The other bodyweight exercises that you can use this technique with to build muscle mass fast are the dips, cobra pushups and handstand pushups for the push muscles of the upper body.”

“The pull muscles can be handled with both the pullups (which will hit more of the lats and back) and the chin-ups (which will hit more of the biceps when done as I show you here).”

“The legs are hit well with the eccentric step up and down. Here again, I’m not just trying to get my body up on the bench but rather I’m trying to drive as much contraction and tension into the muscles that I’m lifting with. The glutes, hamstrings and quads as well as the calves are all going to be working harder than ever to complete these reps.”

“While I love using dumbbells and barbell in my training I realize that there are times when I’m either not able to (due to lack of access to a fully equipped gym) or I am just looking for a change from the normal type of training that I’m doing. In these instances, I know that I don’t have to stop building muscle when I do. With techniques like what I am showing you here, you can be assured that you will be able to increase the intensity of your weight free training enough to keep the gains coming.”

Video – How to Build Muscle Without Weights

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